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Linking local to local: a mobile spatial messaging service for a grassroots environmental network

Rahemtulla, H.A.; (2009) Linking local to local: a mobile spatial messaging service for a grassroots environmental network. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

New Information and Communication Technologies (NICTs) are potentially useful tools in strengthening local initiatives towards sustainability. The Science & Technology (S&T) Framework for Sustainable Development provides a context for such development. This thesis describes a study aimed at examining how existing mobile technologies can be used to support the activities of an environmental grassroots organisation, using the London 21 Sustainability Network as an extended case study. Consistent with the S&T Framework, it is clear that to realise the potential of these technologies a new mobile service should be effectively embedded into the structure and activity of the network. Using a participatory research approach, an extensive user requirements study was carried out to ensure that the development of the mobile service for London 21 fulfils the purposes, goals and expectations of the organisation. The findings from the survey suggested that the level of interest in a mobile information service, combined with the current lack of service provision, would sustain a mobile information service. The suggestion id that this would be in the form of a Targeted Standard Messaging Service (SMS), from which individuals would receive information about environmental events local to where they live. This led to the development of a Mobile Spatial Messaging Service, called EcoTEXT for London 21. This service allows individuals to receive geographically targeted, action-orientated, time-relevant information via text-messages on their mobile phones. The content of the service is information about upcoming events and activities, which match the interests of the user, when these events occur in close spatial proximity to the user’s residence. This type of service represents a powerful new dimension for the provision of data-driven services in comparison to current text-based services. Location gives the services additional meaning and value. The results of this research advocate more than simply placing technological devices into a local network. Rather, the introduction of such a service into an organisation’s communication toolkit is shown to create, supplement and strengthen social ties and interactions within the community. These findings are consistent with London 21’s long term goals and aspirations. Furthermore, EcoTEXT is an example of a technology that may be completely owned, managed, financed and maintained within the community. The service therefore offers London 21 a more sustainable model for local NICT provision and, potentially, other similar organisations might wish to integrate it within their organisational infrastructures.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Linking local to local: a mobile spatial messaging service for a grassroots environmental network
Language:English
Additional information:Authorisation for digitisation not received
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Geography

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